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Donte DiVincenzo defends Tom Thibodeau, says his bad reputation is ‘bulls–t’

Tom Thibodeau Donte DiVincenzo
Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is the coach that most players don’t want to play for, according to an anonymous poll. (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)

Donte DiVincenzo defends Tom Thibodeau, says his bad reputation is ‘bulls–t’

There were 16 questions in the latest anonymous player poll, which was released by The Athletic Monday. Two of the questions that has been in all three editions is which coach (not your own) that you would want to play for most, and least.

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, widely regarded as one of the best head coaches in the sport, took home the award for the coach players would “most” want to play for. For the least? New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, garnering the most votes for this specific question for the third straight time.

Knicks players weren’t happy about their head coach getting bashed in that form, including first-year Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo.

“Buls–t, that’s all I have to say,” DiVincenzo said, according to Stefon Bandy of the New York Post. “A lot of guys don’t play for Thibs. I play for Thibs. On the outside, looking in you have a certain viewpoint. When you are inside and play for Thibs, like I said, it’s bulls–t.

“You don’t know him. You don’t know how the organization runs. You don’t know how the practices run. You don’t know anything … You see honestly on the sideline how he acts. To us that’s dedication. That’s how much love and dedication he gives to us every day. Like I said, that poll is bulls–t and inaccurate.”

Thibodeau garnered 36 of the 77 player votes to the answer, or 46.8 percent of them, to be exact; it was over three percentage points higher than it was a year ago (43.6 percent; 24-55) and 14 percentage points greater than in 2019 (34.6 percent; 18-52). In this most recent poll, Thibodeau finished above new Bucks head coach Doc Rivers, Detroit’s Monty Williams and Los Angeles’ Darvin Ham.

While Thibodeau does have the reputation of playing his best players near 40 minutes per night during the regular season, he’s also done a brilliant job amplifying the skillsets of his players, such as DiVincenzo, Isaiah Hartenstein and All-Star guard Jalen Brunson, among others.

“Thibs is an amazing leader and he’s done an amazing job this year,” DiVincenzo said, according to Knicks beat writer Fred Katz of The Athletic. “I can’t say enough about what he’s helped me accomplish individually, but also look at what he’s done. We’re on the verge of possibly having 50 wins and two of our top three guys have been out for most of the year.”

In four years since arriving in New York, Thibodeau is 175-143 (.550) and has advanced to the playoffs three times. The Knicks secured the No. 2 seed in the East on the last day of the regular season, despite battling with myriad injuries to Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and OG Anunoby throughout the 2023-24 campaign.

The 66-year-old is 527-389 (.575) in is career with a 33-41 (.446) playoff record in 12 combined seasons with the Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls.

“So the people who have never done this — people have opinions, but you don’t listen to those opinions,” Thibodeau said earlier this month, according to Bondy. “I think you have to figure out what’s best for your team, what gives you the best chance to win. And then if you have guys who can handle that, that’s what they should get.”

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